Armed bank robbers took £126,000 and knocked down woman in raid, court told

Armed bank robbers took £126,000 and knocked down woman in raid, court told

By Adele Forrest | 21/07/2017

Armed bank robbers took £126,000 and knocked down woman in raid, court told
The scene in Parkgate after the Yorkshire Bank raid.

TWO armed raiders robbed a bank of £126,660 in an early-morning raid before threatening police with a gun and running down a woman with her own van as they fled, a court heard.

Paul Smith (55), of The Coppice, Kimberworth Park, has admitted being one of two balaclava-wearing armed robbers who targeted Yorkshire Bank on Broad Street, Rawmarsh, on January 29 last year.

Michael Lydon (53), of Fairview Avenue, Cleethorpes, denies being Smith’s accomplice and went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday.

He faces two charges of robbery, two of possession of an imitation firearm and one each of making use of an imitation firearm with intent, attempted robbery and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Smith (pictured) has admitted all seven offences and will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

Another man, Jason Heppenstall, has admitted being the getaway driver.

He was tracked down by police after he used his own car to pick up Smith and his accomplice in the car park of Wilson’s Carpets in Parkgate after the raid, the court heard.

Mr Timothy Capstick, prosecuting, said Heppenstall (28), of Langdon Walk, Kimberworth Park, had been introduced to Lydon by Smith three years after starting a relationship with Smith’s daughter.

Unemployed Heppenstall had been offered money to drive Smith around, said Mr Capstick, and it had soon become apparent that he and Lydon were planning to rob the bank and Heppenstall was recruited as the getaway driver.

The court heard the robbers entered the bank by the roof and rounded up staff as they were opening up.

The robbers forced staff to open cash machines and a safe, which they emptied into a holdall.

One worker bank activated a panic alarm, which alerted the police.

When the robbers, who were wearing high-visibility jackets, saw PC Neil Windle’s police car outside they fled by the roof with the money in a holdall and escaped down a ladder, Mr Capstick said.

PC Windle was told to put his hands up but he activated an emergency transmission device to alert colleagues, said the prosecutor.

When PC Joseph Fearnley arrived at the scene, he ignored the armed robbers’ demands to get on the floor and ran back to his police car to alert the control room, Mr Capstick said.

“The robbers chased PC Fearnley, pointed the imitation handgun at his face, forced him to get over a wall and told him not to give chase,” he said, adding that the terrified officer complied with this order.

The raiders tried in vain to carjack the Audi being driven by brave mum Kerry Leary in nearby on Ashwood Road, leaving her with serious injuries, the court heard.

Mr Capstick said the men next targeted van driver Sharon Uttley in Foundry Street, grabbing her round the neck and by the hair when she refused to hand over her car keys.

Ms Uttley broke free and ran to a shop to raise the alarm, he said, but when she tried to stop the men driving off in her van, they used it to knock her down, seriously injuring her.

The robbers headed to Wilson’s Carpets on Rotherham Road to meet Heppenstall, the court heard, having dumped their fake gun and the holdall full of money and left the van in Rail Mill Way.

Staff in the carpet shop became suspicious on seeing the men in the shop and made a note of the reigstration of the Blue Citreon which picked them up, Mr Capstick said, which led police to Heppenstall.

Mr Capstick said Lydon’s defence barrister would argue that Heppenstall, who is due to give evidence, had lied about the defendant’s involvement and that Lydon was not involved.

The trial continues.